When it comes to discussing a parent’s age, the mother often stands in the limelight. Research agrees that the egg of an older women becomes invisible as she grows older. Additionally, fertility rates also go down. On top of that, menopause does the job of a ticking time bomb the best. However, researchers have not looked at the impact of a father’s age and learned about its impact on birth complications.
The study published in the British Medical Journal showed that the father’s age slightly contributed to the risk of birth complications. The fact of the matter is that this concern is of significance as the number of older men having children has increased.
A 2018 study confirms that the mean paternal age has jumped from 27.4 years to 30.9 years in the past 44 years.
What did the study find?
Since men contribute half of their DNA to a baby, it was only a matter of time before the subject of a man’s age came into focus. The study gathered data from 40 million births documented by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
After adjusting all the other factors, the team of researchers learned that children born to fathers older than 35 in age were at increased odds for low birth weight, seizures as well as needed ventilation immediately after birth.
Babies born to men 45 or older were 14% more likely to have premature children. Lastly, men who were aged 50 or older were 28% likely to have a baby who required admission to the neonatal intensive care unit.
What are the possible causes?
At this point, research on this subject is still in its preliminary stage. Although it confirms that the father’s age has a role in the tendency of birth complications, it has failed to pinpoint the exact reason behind it.
There different possible explanations put forward though. Michael L. Eisenberg, MD, coauthor of the study and director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California explained these.
Eisenberg pointed out, “It could be due to genetics, in that every year the man accumulates two mutations in sperm DNA, and another possibility is epigenetic to DNA itself. These go to gene expression, how efficiently the different DNA become different protein. The mechanism may be through the placenta, in that if it hasn’t developed perfectly, it could affect child or mother. They are nice theories but they are purely speculative at this point.”
Another surprising effect – the father’s age also affects the mother of his child
In addition to these findings, the study also reveals that the women who had children of older-aged fathers were also likely to be impacted. Such women show an increased risk of having gestational diabetes. This is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy and goes after pregnancy.
Statistically, women with partners who were aged 45 were 28% more likely to develop gestational diabetes in contrast with women who bore children with fathers between the age of 25-34.
There’s more research needed to learn about the ‘why’ part of this subject. However, what’s clear so far is that age of both the parents has a role to play in determining the likelihood of their baby’s birth complications.
This is nothing to worry about though. The chances of this happening are quite small. Researchers also say that this revelation is nothing to fret about. Couples should keep this in mind when plan their family.